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Myself would, on the rereward of reproaches,
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame ?] Frame is contrivance, order, disposition of things. So, in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1603:
· And therefore seek to set each thing in frame.” Again, in Holinshed's Chronicle, p. 555: There was no man that studied to bring the unrulie to frame.” Again, in Daniel's Verses on Montaigne :
extracts of men, “ Though in a troubled frame confus'dly set.” Again, in this play:
“Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.” Steevens. It seems to me, that by frugal nature’s frame, Leonato alludes to the particular formation of himself, or of Hero's mother, rather than to the universal system of things. Frame means here framing, as it does where Benedick says of John, that
“ His spirits toil in frame of villainies.” Thus Richard says of Prince Edward, that he was
“ Fram'd in the prodigality of nature.” And, in All's well that ends well, the King says to Bertram :
“ Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
“ Hath well compos'd thee." But Leonato, dissatisfied with his own frame, was wont to complain of the frugality of nature. M. Mason.
The meaning, I think, is,-Grieved I at nature's being so frugal as to have framed for me only one child ? Malone.
7 Who smirched thus, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio reads—"smeared.” To smirch is to daub, to sully. So, in King Henry V: “Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch’d,” &c.
Steevens. 8 But mine, and mine I lov’d, and mine I prais'd,
And mine that I was proud on ;] The sense requires that we should read, as in these three places. The reasoning of the speaker stands thus-Had this been my adopted child, her shame would not have rebounded on me. But this child was mine, as mine I lov'd her,
Claud. Out on thy seeming!? I will write against it :3
Hero. Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide ?5
What should I speak?
Leon. Are these things spoken? or do I but dream?6
True, O God!
Leon. All this is so; But what of this, my lord?
Claud. Let me but move one question to your daughter; And, by that fatherly and kindly power7 That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
thy seeming!] The old copies have thee. The emenda. tion is Mr. Pope's. In the next line Shakspeare probably wrote -seem'd. Malone.
I will write against it:] So, in Cymbeline, Posthumus speaking of women says,
- I'll write against them,
chaste as is the bud —] Before the air has tasted its sweetness. Fohnson.
that he doth speak so wide?] i. e. so remotely from the present business. So, in Troilus and Cressida :-“ No, no; no such matter, you are wide.” Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: “I never heard a man of his place, gravity, and learning, so wide of his own respect.” Steevens. 6 Are these things spoken? or do I but dream?] So, in Macbeth:
“Were such things here, as we do speak about?
Johnson. Thus, in the Introduction to The Taming of the Shrew:
- This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs.” i. e. naturally. Steevens.
Leon. I charge thee do so, as thou art my.
child. Hero. O God defend me! how am I beset! What kind of catechizing call you this?
Claud. To make you answer truly to your name.
Hero. Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
Marry that can Hero;
Hero. I talk'd with no man at that hour, my lord.
D. Pedro. Why, then are you no maiden.-Leonato,
Fie, fie! they are
Claud. O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been,
liberal villain,] Liberal here, as in many places of these plays, means frank beyond honesty, or decency. Free of tongue. Dr. Warburton unnecessarily reads, illiberal. Fohnson. So, in The Fair Maid of Bristow, 1605:
“But Vallinger, most like a liberal villain
“ Did give her scandalous ignoble terms.” Again, in The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
“ And give allowance to your liberal jests
Upon his person.” Steevens. This sense of the word liberal is not peculiar to Shakspeare. John Taylor, in his Suite concerning Players, complains of the
many aspersions very liberally, unmannerly, and ingratefully bestowed upon him.” Farmer.
- what a Hero had'st thou been,] I am afraid here is intended a poor conceit upon the word Hero. Fohnson.
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Sir, sir, be patient:
Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Beat. No, truly, not; although until last night,
Leon. Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made,
Friar. Hear me a little;
praised her, was proud of her : consequently, as I claimed the glory, I must needs be subject to the shame, &c. Warburton.
Even of this small alteration there is no need. The speaker utters his emotion abruptly. But mine, and mine that I loo'd, &c. by an ellipsis frequent, perhaps too frequent, both in verse and prose. Johnson.
the wide sea Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;] The same thought is repeated in Macbeth:
“Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
which may season give To her foul tainted flesh!] The same metaphor from the kitchen occurs in Twelfth Night:
all this to season " A brother's dead love." Steevena.
Against her maiden truth :-Call me a fool;
Friar it cannot be:
Hero. They know, that do accuse me; I know none: If I know more of any man alive, Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, Let all my sins lack mercy!-O my father, Prove you that any man with me convers'd At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight Maintain'd the change of words with any creature, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
Friar. There is some strange misprision in the princes. Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour;5
2 To burn the errors – ] The same idea occurs in Romeo and Juliet:
“ Transparent hereticks be burnt for liars.” Steevens.
-of my book ;] i. e. of what I have read. Malone. 4 Friar.
- what man is he you are accus'd of?] The friar had just before boasted his great skill in fishing out the truth. And, indeed, he appears by this question to be no fool. He was by, all the while at the accusation, and heard no name mentioned. Why then should he ask her what man she was accused of? But in this lay the subtilty of his examination. For, had Hero been guilty, it was very probable that in that hurry and confusion of spirits, into which the terrible insult of her lover had thrown her, she would never have observed that the man's name was not mentioned; and so, on this question, have betrayed herself by naming the person she was conscious of an affair with. The Friar observed this, and so concluded that were she guilty, she would probably fall into the trap he laid for her.-I only take notice of this to show how admirably well Shakspeare knew how to sustain his characters. Warburton.
- bent of honour ;] Bent is used by our author for the utmost degree of any passion, or mental quality. In this play be.